Welcome to The Spotlight, on today’s show we meet Penny Painter, The supportive services coordinator for construction industry apprentices in the state of Oregon.
During our conversation we will learn about the various programs Penny oversees and how they are used help offset the financial burdens many apprentices experience while learning their craft.
From assistance in purchasing tools and necessary work gear to helping with living out of town expenses and childcare this is an episode you will not want to miss.
To learn about supportive services and career enhancing opportunities in Washington State with a focus on the Seattle Puget Sound area be sure to check out the Episode #5 from Season 2, titled Supportive Services Western Washington.
If you know a group or initiative that would be a good candidate for The Spotlight, please send an email to [email protected]. Be sure to include the contact information for the organization and how it has contributed to better the lives of our members.
The Show Notes
Penny Painter Contact Email
Join Grit NW Nation here:
(could this be any easier?)
Grit NW is a proud member of the Labor Radio/ Podcast Network.
For comments, questions or suggestions about the show send an email to:
Grit NW is now on the Twitter!! How cool is that, right?
Check us out at @GritNW
Penny Painter, welcome to The Spotlight.Penny Painter:
Well, thank you, Joe, for having me. I really appreciate you helping us get the word out about these support services.Joe Cadwell:
And thank you so much for taking your time to be on the show today, Penny. So why don't you tell our listeners something about you and your background?Penny Painter:
I'll start with I'm a carpenter by trade. And I spent about 35 - 40 years out there working in the trades. I was a general contractor for 18 years. So I'm kind of well rounded. And I also worked for for training programs, like the Oregon trades woman for a little over five years. And I worked with the tap evening trades apprenticeship preparation program during that same five years and spent a lot of time training folks and helping people get into the trades.Joe Cadwell:
So Penny in regards to helping people get into the trades, why don't you tell us about the very first programPenny Painter:
The first program that we started was the build that yo u started Oregon build your future. apprenticeship supports apprentice support services. And that program comes out of the Oregon Department of Transportation. And it is now run through the Bureau of Labor and Industries. But we are the managers. So we have a program that serves apprentices within the heavy highway trades. And by that I mean that apprentices who are carpenters, laborers, cement masons, iron workers, operators and or painters can apply for these funds. And that program has funding for helping with travel services if they travel more than 60 miles to get to their job site. And that's for apprentices in all levels of those trades. And they can get, you know, like funding to help pay for the hotel room for the first couple of weeks, or mileage money to get to the job and home a couple of times until they get paid. And then funding for money for food allowance as well to take care of them for the first couple of weeks if they don't have any other means of that. And that's available to all apprentices in those trades. Until they journey out and or until they run out of the funding that is available to them. Then we have the childcare services through that same program. This one is phenomenal. The childcare, all apprentices in those trades, no matter what their level, can apply for childcare assistance through this program, it can pay anywhere from 25% of their monthly childcare costs to 100% of their childcare monthly costs. And it is kind of a works on a stair step situation, you know, the more money you make, the less money is paid for. And it's evaluated, they sign up for the program. And then they have to be they have to, you know, fill out paperwork, or just you know, update their income level every six months, in order to get the services is paid directly to their childcare provider. their child care provider must be a state registered program, and must be DHS approved in order to get the services and I can work with them to get that worked out. If they have a family member that's doing child care, their family member can get signed up and registered. And it's not that a lot of work to do that. And I can help them with that. And as I said it can pay their childcare from anywhere from 25% of it to 100%. And as we all know, oh, childcare is as much as your mortgage payment these days. And so any part of it being paid or helped with is a bonus. Then we have the tools and PPE equipment support. This funding for that tools, boots, rain gear, you know, different gear that they might need or different tools that they may need. That funding is only available to folks that are in their first year of their apprenticeship program. You know, they can be in these trades, the carpenter labor operators, you met Mason, iron worker, or painter, they can be in one of those trades, and definitely apply within their first year and get assistance with those things. Or if they're in another trade, like let's say an electrician, let's say an electrician is out here working on a bridge job to do the light system or something like that. They can actually apply while they're on that job as long as they're working on a bridge or a highway project. And in their first year. Any apprentice can apply if that's the case, but for the most part, we have the highway trades apply to these this program. And so what they will need to do in order to To get those services, first they need to call me and answer some preliminary questions. So I can figure out what their needs are, they must be a registered apprentice, and they must be in good standing with their apprenticeship program. In other words, folks, fill out those mprs. That's very important. I hope we keep that in the cast. Because as many times as an apprentice can hear, complete your mprs is a bonus. Okay.Joe Cadwell:
And for those listeners who aren't familiar with MPR's Penny is referring to the monthly progress report. It's a way that the apprentices stay accountable for the hours that they've worked, or even if they're not working to the various jatc, or joint apprentice training committees in which that oversee their academic progression through the program.Penny Painter:
But if you don't complete those, then you're not accountable for your hours.Joe Cadwell:
I agree as an apprentice coordinator now that I always tell my apprentices there's three things to being a successful apprentice and making it through that four year long construction college. And the very first thing is to make sure those mprs are turned in by the first of the month no later than the fifth of the following month in which you worked to attend all your related training and then to stay gainfully employed. Because as we know, the apprenticeship program, the bulk of your learning is on the job, roughly 90% of apprentices familiarity with a craft that their learning is takes place on the job site. But it all starts with those nprs. I agree.Penny Painter:
And then like I said, I double check their training center with their training center. And I need them to send in check stubs. Usually with those if they don't, if they haven't been working, we work through that. That's not a problem. And if they have been working, or it's a split thing, where you've been working and going to class, don't hesitate to call the program and find out where you fit. Because that's very important. You fill out the paperwork, you turning it, you turn it in, we work on doing a calculation, and then give you a call. And you know, I have been known to be very much you know, on the forefront of getting things done so that you land on the job with your tools, wearing your tools, wearing the proper gear, that's really important, it's as important to me as it is to you. So if you have your paperwork and your ducks in a row, then I can make sure that that happens. Because I don't want anybody showing up on the job without their tools and gear if it's also possible to fix. Now, if you're going to be traveling, and you're asking for assistance with the travel, that does take a minute because we have to, you know, get everything all filled out. And then we have to issue a check for the cost of the fuel. And we have to make arrangements with the motel we pay directly to the motel. And you know, all those arrangements have to be made. So you need to let somebody know as soon as possible. I've been known to get it done in the same day of the request, not a problem. And that's providing we're working back and forth and doing a good communication thing going on because that in and of itself will get the job done. The childcare services now there is an application a special application that needs to be filled out. It runs coinciding me with the state of Oregon Department of Human Services Program. I am the lead and the liaison for the apprentices like your case manager. In other words, and then I work directly with a case manager at DHS. So that we don't get hung up in the whole system of trying to apply our flow, our program always puts everybody through the whole DHS application process. Because if we can get you qualified for the early related child care, then that helps with your services and keeps more money in your bucket while they're paying the child care out of the state. And if there's any copay, we pay that. And then as soon as you make too much money and you move over to the you know, they tell you that you don't qualify for the erdc program anymore, then it moves directly into the apprentice related childcare program. And then that's when we calculate and decipher how much you qualify for in the arcc program. And then it is paid out on a monthly basis directly to the provider. And they do have to send in billing forms and we'll go over all those little tiny details in order to get paid but is paid directly to the provider.Joe Cadwell:
So to summarize, Penny, I'm looking at some of the information you sent me over earlier and I wasn't aware of that. how beneficial these these benefits are. I mean, I'm looking at assistance for an apprentice up to $1,000 assistance with lodging that can go up to 15 $100 per apprentice meal allowances up to $250 daycare assistance with a maximum of $10,000 per apprentice that's just amazing to me. Tools up to set tools and PP up to $600 per apprentice, this is just astounding to me that this program is is available to people that are, you know, enrolled in our apprenticeship program.Penny Painter:
Absolutely, Joe, and you know what, that's just a start. If they attend a budget class, all those numbers rise. And so yeah, those values increase with attending the budget class, but you're right, they're really good standard, you know, starting values in the first place, you know, for the, for the apprentices, you know, it can help somebody out in the very first place for sure.Joe Cadwell:
And as we know, on a national average, regardless of the craft or trade, there's about a 50 to 60% washout of first year apprentices. And I think a lot of that has to do with just the, the, you know, newness to the particular trade that they're looking at difficulty shoring up things like childcare, or the expenses of living out of town, to to learn your craft. And so these services seems like they'd be very, very beneficial to people just getting started,Penny Painter:
you know, if they know about this program, I can help them I can walk them through, I can provide stuff for them, I can, you know, help them answer questions or guide them in the right direction in order to get those questions answered. It's one thing that I really want to express here today, too, is that we are here to help. If you just call me and ask me a question. That's okay. The same thing with the training center, you know, people turn and walk away from their trade, you know, not knowing how to look for work, for starters, not knowing how, what direction to go to get services, or if they're even available, not realizing that you have meetings to bond with other people that are doing the same thing that you're doing really super important. You gotta you have to get involved to be the change, you know, they they run into some kind of a barrier, or somebody that says something just stupid, you know, and they turn and decide that they want to go a different direction. If they need help with that, then they just need to ask the question. And they need to know that there's more of us out here that are willing to help and want them to succeed. And that's what we're here for is to help them succeed.Joe Cadwell:
So I understand Penny, that you also have two other programs that you're overseeing, aside from the ODOT program, what can you tell us about thosePenny Painter:
Multnomah County to be specific, has a program, it's called the Multnomah County Workforce Development Program support services for apprentices. And that program is not as big as the bully program. So but it kind of mirrors that program. If you're an apprentice in your first year, and you're in a construction related trade, then this program is open to you. And it also provides help getting tools, boots, rain gear, paying for certain certifications, things like that. The travel, it is a little bit smaller program. So if they travel more than 60 miles, I will help them for like in the first week. And you know, for sure, get some mileage money to get back and forth to work. This is a program where I can actually buy a bus pass. So if somebody was, you know, having to take the bus to work to, you know, get their ducks in a row and get their driver's license back and things like that, then we can help with that. The childcare support, it's on a as needed basis on a case by case. Because it isn't enough money in that whole contract to sustain you know, several people with childcare. So what I usually do is I try to help with emergency childcare or while they're trying to get into the other program or another program, like if they were applying for the emergency or the early, early related daycare through DHS, and they didn't have a setup yet, then I could help pay for the first couple of weeks of their childcare the first month or so. So you have any questions about that program?Joe Cadwell:
know that? I guess the only question I have Penny does that work in conjunction with the ODOT program? Is it possible for an apprentice to get say a grant for the tools from the ODOT program and additionally, the tools from the Multnomah county workforce dev lopment program?Penny Painter:
Oh, that's a very good question. No. Everything sums up like the polio program and use tools as an example, you can get up to $600. If you have gotten $250 from that program, and then we moved over to the Multnomah County, you still wouldn't be able to go above that cap. I see. Okay, same thing vice versa. It's one program or the other.Joe Cadwell:
Understood. Okay. And then the the third program that you're working with is the apprenticeship USA grant. What can you tell us about that?Penny Painter:
So the apprentice USA grant apprenticeship USA grant is out of the Higher Education Coordinating commission. And now that grant is one that any apprentice in the in the construction trades can apply for, it's only up to the maximum of $250, no matter what they get from that program. So if somebody for some reason, like you know, didn't want to look for their, you know, financial proof or didn't want to submit it, or whatever the case, they can apply it to that program. And or I can move them into that program, let's say somebody qualify, or somebody applies for one of the other programs, and they don't qualify because of their income or somebody else's income is usually the case, then I can move them directly into the apprentice USA grant. And there's no proof of income required. So I can still help them. That's the key. That program covers the tools and PP gear only up to a certain amount. Can we do that though. And that's an again, the top cap is $250. And the transportation related costs up to $100. And we have actually certain certificate certifications, and exam fees that they can then relate to their construction work, of course, of up to $150. And so if they had some kind of a particular training program that they needed to take in order to, you know, get a job or stay in a job or something to that effect, then they could get help with that.Joe Cadwell:
There's a lot a lot of just amazing programs, again, available for our apprentices. Where would people go to find out more information about all these wonderful programs? Penny?Penny Painter:
My email is Penny [email protected]Joe Cadwell:
I'll make sure and add that to the show notes. Penny. Well, again, thank you so much for your taking your time to be on the show to explain to our listeners all these valuable programs that are available to them when they decide to take on a career in the heavy highway construction trades.Penny Painter:
Thank you, Joe. I really do appreciate, you know, the help of getting the word out about the programs and you know, my best advertisement is our apprentices. And so they spread the word out there and so anybody that hears this, please do spread the word about the support services.